Libya stalemate begins to show signs of breaking

08:48, July 18, 2011      

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The stalemate in Libya has in the past week appeared to begin giving way to the advancing rebels, as the opposition was buoyed by the news their regime was recognized by a number of major powers.

On the battle front, after months of NATO-led bombings and seesaw battles, the rebels fighting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's government forces reached towns only dozens of kilometers from the capital Tripoli.

And on the political front, the opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) was recognized as "the legitimate governing authority in Libya" by more than 30 countries in Istanbul on Friday.

The rebels' military advance and the recognition by the United States of the NTC bring pressure to bear on Gaddafi's forces, as billions of dollars in frozen Libyan funds could be unlocked -- good news for the cash-strapped rebels.

Meanwhile, a change of stance was also seen from Russia, who had been an advocate of negotiations between the warring sides. Moscow now agrees with Washington that Gaddafi's "days are numbered" and that the crisis should end with his ouster.

While NATO has been intensifying airstrikes against Gaddafi's forces, the defiant Libyan leader on Saturday vowed never to leave his country, in an audio address to supporters in the city of Zawiya, some 50 km west of Tripoli.

Whether the conflict would eventually come to an end with a military victory for either of the two sides, or the crisis would be resolved through a negotiated political settlement, the trend and outcome of the "chess game" in Libya is becoming more apparent anyway.

In Asia, three serial blasts rocked India's financial hub Mumbai on Wednesday, killing at least 21 people and injuring 141, in what local authorities believed to be the most deadly terror attack since 2008.

Mumbai police said all the blasts happened in a congested area. The crowded Zaveri Bazaar jewelry market in South Mumbai was hit first, followed by the Opera House and a bus stop in Dadar West, central Mumbai.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Investigators are looking at the possible role of the militant group, the Indian Mudjahideen, in the blasts.

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